Narada Bhakti Sutras

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chapter 3 Sutra 16 and 17


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 16 –
Yo vedanapi sanyasyathi kevalam avicchinna anuraagam labhathe

Word Meaning
Yah vedaan api sanyasyathi – He who renounces even the Vedas,
Kevalam avicchinna anuraagam labhathe – and attains only unlimited devotion to the Lord

(He crosses over Maya).

Sutra Meaning
He who renounces even the Vedas and attains only unlimited devotion to the Lord, he crosses over Maya.

Narada finally ends up the enumeration of the qualities in a seeker to overcome Maya in this sutra. He gives the last two qualities essential in a seeker in this sutra. As in many other places, Narada’s view might seem to be non-traditional, non-conventional and even contradictory to scriptures but the statements are perfectly in blend with scriptures.

A seeker who is in the spiritual path considers the Vedas as the ultimate authority to anything whether it is regarding actions to be performed or rituals or propitiation or knowledge. There is nothing greater than the Vedas for a seeker. The Vedas since are the final authority on knowledge and spiritual path, it is the last thing that has to be renounced by the seeker. Vedas as they themselves proclaim in Brihadarayanka Upanishad (vedaah avedaah) are valid only in the empirical plane. At the ultimate level, there is only one thing which is real – that is termed as Ishwara or Lord or Brahman. Thus there is only one thing that has to kept close to our heart and everything else has to be renounced. The more we cling on to Vedas, we are in fact binding ourselves with the golden chain of Vedas. Vedas are just like the dream lion which helps us in waking up. Once we wake up, we shouldn’t still cling on the dream lion. We should let the dream lion go once we wake up as the lion which caused us to wake up is only an illusion only.

The Vedas though are said to eternal at the empirical level, is an illusion only from the ultimate level. If we cling on to any part of the Vedas whether it is the Brahma Sutras or the Upanishads or Gita, we will not be able to realize our nature of Lord. If we are to realize our nature of Lord or Brahman, we have to renounce everything and be attached to the Lord alone. This is possible only if we renounce the Vedas as well. There are many people who cling on to the Vedas after learning them. There are yet others who cling on to their Guru or the Mahatmas in the world. Any speech about the Mahatma also being an illusion will evoke strong protest from such people. Such seekers have to understand and realize that everything apart from Brahman is an illusion whether it is the Vedas or the Mahatma or the Sadguru. Clinging to one’s Guru or the scriptures is also an attachment which will hinder the progress towards realization.

We are all in the spiritual path from the ocean of samsaara to the kingdom of liberation. While traversing in the ocean, we take resort to the boat of Guru and scriptures. After reaching the kingdom, we cannot say that “I will still keep the boat”. Clinging on to the Guru or the scriptures is as good as clinging on to the boat. We have to renounce the boat if we have to enter into the kingdom of liberation. As long as we cling to the boat, we will not be able to cross and get out of the ocean of samsaara. Similarly as long as we don’t renounce attachment to the Guru and the scriptures, we will not be able to cross over the delusion of Maya.

JIs renouncing of Guru and scriptures along enough? No, after renouncing we should ensure that we cultivate unlimited devotion to the only real entity of Lord. This devotion can be in the form of devotion to Guru whom we consider as the Lord alone. But the moment we differentiate between Guru and Lord by seeing the Guru as a form, we are getting attached to the Guru. A real seeker will renounce the Guru in the physical form and be devoted to the Guru in the unlimited form of adviteeya Brahman or Lord. Such a devotion is unlimited because there is only the Lord seen – nothing else is seen and attachment to nothing else is achieved. This is the final step towards realization when the seeker renounces everything and is devoted in the purest form to the ultimate reality of Lord. Such a person alone crosses over Maya.

We will see Narada’s another bold statement that such a person not only crosses over Maya but he helps in crossing other ignorant people as well in the world in the next day.

Sutra 17 –
Sa tarathi sa tarathi sa lokaan taarayathi

Word Meaning
Sa tarathi – he crosses (over the ocean of Maya)
Sa tarathi – he crosses (over the ocean of Maya)
Sa lokaa taarayathi – he also helps in the world (people in the world) crossing over.

Sutra Meaning
He crosses; he crosses over the ocean of Maya. He also helps in the world crossing over Maya.

We saw in the previous day as to Narada finally proclaiming that a person who renounces everything including the Vedas and develops ultimate devotion to the ultimate reality of Lord crosses over the ocean of Maya. Here Narada boldly says that such a person not only himself crosses over Maya but he helps in the world over crossing over. This means that such a person helps the people in the world to cross over. As proclaimed by Lord in Gita that a Mahatma’s activity in the world is only for the welfare of the world, the very presence of the Mahatma helps other people to get inspiration, work towards the goal and thereby crossing over the ocean of samsaara.

Is there any world for the Mahatma who has crossed over Maya? Can he perform any actions as actions are arising out of ignorance?
The world may or may not be there for a Mahatma. The state of a Mahatma cannot be explained in words as he has realized Brahman who is beyond words. We cannot really put in words the experience of a Mahatma but can only hint at it from the viewpoint of an ignorant person. The question itself shows that the questioner is in ignorance. Such a person who is in ignorance cannot apprehend the state of a Mahatma who is in knowledge even as a farmer cannot understand the state of Einstein. But in order to pacify the seeker who questions such futile questions, the scriptures explain it beautifully.

A person sees water in desert. He runs after water but doesn’t find it. Thereby he realizes that there was and there is no water in desert. After knowing that there is no water in desert, he might still see water in desert. But the knowledge that there is no water will help him in not running after water. Even if he runs after water along with the world, he will not be affected by the outcome of not finding water because he already knew that there is no water. Similarly once a Mahatma crosses over the ocean of samsaara, he might still see the world. But he knows that there is no world as the world is only an illusion of names and forms in the ultimate reality of Lord. Therefore he is not bound by the world or its objects. He might do actions like a worldly person even as we daily dream though we know there is no dream world. Such actions do not exist for the Mahatma as he knows that everything is an illusion. But ignorant people like us will see such a Mahatma performing actions because of our ignorance state. Any action performed by a Mahatma will be for the benefit of the world because he has overcome all actions. Even as a perfect actor will perform the role to perfection, the Mahatma will be doing actions to perfection keeping in mind the welfare of the world. This “welfare of the world” explanation is not from the perspective of the Mahatma as for him there is no world at all but this is from the perspective of the ignorant seeker.

Such Mahatma’s very presence will inspire us to seek the ultimate reality of Lord and enter into such a state. Thus the Mahatma will be instrumental in helping people of the world cross over the ocean of samsaara even as great actors like Aamir Khan, Kamal Hassan and others are instrumental in making fresh and new actors perform to perfection.

This aspect of a Mahatma helping others to cross over is not as important as the qualities enumerated which will help seekers like us to cross over Maya. With this, we come to the end of this third chapter of Narada Bhakthi Sutras. We will see a summary of this chapter in the next day and then enter into the four chapter.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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